Within two weeks of The Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne Tha God’s abhorrent assumption of singer Nivea not loving herself because of the men she’d slept with, rapper-turned-podcaster and “pop culture pundit” Joe Budden conflated women empowerment with feminism because of his disdain for Brittany Renner’s recent tell-all book. Both instances reiterated the trend of rap media personalities erasing/downgrading black women for the sake of uplifting the culture.
In the last episode Budden’s show “State of the Culture”, he and co-host Scottie Beam engaged in a heated discussion over Brittany Renner’s recently published book “Judge This Cover”, in which she details her sexual relationships with stars like Drake, Colin Kaepernick, Lil Uzi and others. And it seemed like the only reason Renner’s book was even talked about on the show was for Scottie Beam to condemn Renner’s actions because, according to Joe Budden, “when women do fuck shit, you (referring to Scottie Beam) redirect that energy toward a man, and it’s been eight weeks, and, honestly, I’m confused”. Budden went on to claim that Beam was contributing to this “fake women empowerment bullshit” and implied that Beam must’ve been hurt by a guy because of her refusal to criticize Renner’s actions.
This is no different from the The Breakfast Club’s cringe-worthy interview of Nivea. In what was supposed to be a conversation of the R&B singer’s resurgence to the limelight with her new music, the interview turned into a problematic conversation about the singer’s sex life and the financial benefits she’s received from being married to/having kids with Lil Wayne and The Dream. While Charlamagne and DJ Envy attempted to reduce Nivea’s success by asking her multiple questions about her sexuality, Angela Yee, as usual, sat there and said absolutely nothing to defend her. Yee’s silence spoke volumes when Charlamagne asked Nivea if she loved herself in regards to her admitting that she likes to have sex. Nivea gracefully schooled Charlamagne that a woman having sex has no correlation to the amount of love she has for herself.
Angela Yee’s silence during Nivea’s interview was reminiscent of the time she barely defended Janet Mock during Lil Duval’s interview last year, in which he joked about killing a transgender woman, among other things. Telling Lil Duval that the word “tranny” was offensive was the extent of Yee’s defense of transgender women. That interview was the epitome of ignorance, to say the least, especially considering that Janet Mock was recently on the show discussing her activism for people who identify as transgender.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Brittany Renner talking about her former sexual partners just like there’s nothing inherently wrong Nivea wanting to have sex. But there is something inherently wrong with allowing transgender women to be the focal point of a joke and wanting to condemn black women for their sexuality. Black women have the right to be open about about their sexuality, and the fact that the most popular hip-hop culture commentators, who also are black men, want to describe that sexual liberation as something morally wrong or as evidence of a woman not loving herself proves the desire to diminish black women’s experiences from culture conversations. This is especially true considering that the women cohosts on those outlets are either silent like Angela Yee, siding with the men’s perspective like Remy Ma or being painted as the “angry black woman” like Scottie Beam when they do decide to defend black women
While I enjoy listening to Joe Budden and Charlamagne's take on the culture, that interest is only limited to situations that don’t involve black women because I’m not sure that those men can candidly talk about black women’s experiences without being misogynist. I’m also not sure that the state of the culture needs to always be in the hands of heterosexual black men. Hip-hop still remains to be a sexually segregated space, and male-dominated commentary about that space does nothing but continue that trend.